Aug 27, 2010
I took the train (Amtrak, not MARC) to Baltimore on Friday evening. I wasn’t sure how far in advance I needed to be there so I got there. I left my place at 5 PM, took public transportation to Union Station and arrived at 5:40. My train wasn’t scheduled to leave until 7:10 so I had some time to kill. I was a little hungry but decided to to postpone eating dinner until I got to Baltimore.
It occurred to me after buying my train ticket that maybe I should have driven to BWI, left my car in a long-term parking lot, and then caught light rail from there into Baltimore. It certainly would have been cheaper. When I first looked into catching the train to Baltimore it was just $22 but by the time I bought my tickets, a few weeks later, the cheapest fare I could find was $42.
The trip to Baltimore went very smoothly. Roughly 40 minutes after I boarded the train at Union Station I was getting off the train at Penn Station. I thought I would have to pay for a bus ride to the Inner Harbor where I would be staying. I found a cheaper way to get there: the Baltimore circulator bus, which is free.
I checked into the Days Inn, which is a half block from the Convention Center and then started looking for a place to eat. I used the Yelp application on my phone and found Mekong Delta Cafe. It was just the sort of place I was hoping to find but afraid that I would not be able to. It was located a short distance (6 blocks) from the Days Inn.
I had a little trouble finding it, but that was my fault. I had not taken down the address, only taken a quick look at Google Maps. I knew which intersection it was near but I thought it was on Liberty Street when it was actually on Saratoga. At first I thought that I might have gone the wrong way but then I smelled the restaurant, crossed the street, looked up and there it was.
It is located on the first floor of what looks like an old row apartment building. It’s not very big and doesn’t have any big signs advertising the place. It also wasn’t very well lit although I was too hungry to get picky over something like that.
I arrived around 9 PM. A few of the tables were occupied but it was relatively empty. I think I was the next to last customer served that night. There was one couple that came in after me to order carryout.
I wanted to start with Cha Gio (aka Spring Rolls) but they were all out. The owner who was also the waiter explained to me that they wouldn’t have any more until Monday. They have to prepare them in advance and they had sold out by the time I got there. I had Summer Rolls (Goi Cuon) instead, the Mekong Delta Noodle Soup (Hu Tien Tom Thit), and some mango juice.
The food was very good. The Summer Rolls tasted nice and fresh. The soup was hot and filled with all the right ingredients. It wasn’t too salty either, which I often find to be the case at Pho restaurants; which this is not although it is Vietnamese.
The meal was a little more than I needed but I stuffed myself anyway and walked back to the Days Inn very satisfied. One drawback is that they only take cash. I had more than enough to cover the cost of my meal and knew about their cash-only policy so I was prepared when it came time to pay. Including tip I paid $18 for my meal.
Aug 28, 2010
I did a little research before I arrived in Baltimore. I planned to eat breakfast on Saturday morning at Miss Shirley's. I got up early (6:30 AM) and walked to the restaurant. On the way there I passed the convention center. There was already a line of people waiting to get in. That was at 7, the show didn't open until 10.
I arrived early at Miss Shirley's but there was no line and I didn't have too long (45 minutes) to wait before they opened. I passed a Panera, which was already open, on my way to Miss Shirley's. I didn't give a thought to eating there. I wanted something special.
I took a walk around the the Inner Harbor. There wasn't a whole lot to see but the weather was nice and it was relatively quiet. Most the people I saw were either jogging or walking or fishing. I got back to restaurant just before they opened.
I spent the remaining minutes perusing their menu on my phone. There was a lot to choose from. They only serve two meals (breakfast and lunch) but you can order from either menu. I had an easy time narrowing down my choices but I wasn't able to make a final decision until after I was seated.
I ordered the Southern Slammer (Fried Green Tomatoes, Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Avocado, White Cheddar Cheese & Egg on Pumpernickel). It wasn't quite as big as I thought it would be. I didn't order any sides so I was still a little hungry after polishing off the sandwich.
I wanted something sweet. I asked to see the menu again even though I knew what I wanted, the Funky Money Bread (cinnamon-scented pull-apart with bananas, chocolate, and pecans). In addition to the chocolate sauce on the bread there was a cup of extra chocolate sauce. I tried dipping the bread in the extra sauce. The result was that the chocolate drowned out all the other tastes, so I didn't use very much of it.
Based on the price I knew it was going to be big, probably too much for me and it was. I polished off half of the Funky Monkey Bread. A quarter of it would have been plenty. I took the remainder with me.
On my walk back to the hotel I saw that the line outside the convention center was considerably longer than it was when I passed by earlier. I did not want to stand out in the heat for too long. I took my time getting ready and finally headed over to the convention center around 10:20. I still had to wait in line, which seemed very long at first but moved very quickly.
I started out by walking the floor. I stayed away from the booths belonging to the bigger companies and spent more time in the aisles where the artists and creators of independent comics were seated. I chatted with a few creators about their works.
I attended three panels on Saturday. All three were spotlight panels. The subjects were Terry Moore (11 AM), Dennis Kitchen (2 PM), and Mike Allred (3 PM). All three creators were in attendance for their spotlights. All three talked about their early days in the comic book industry. Each panel had a Q&A section towards the end. I asked questions at the first two panels, which were not as well attended as the third.
After the panels I walked the convention floor some more. I bought a few samples from indie creators looking for publishers. I also commissioned art from three different creators. All commissions had a 1960s era Doom Patrol theme. The first two were of Robotman and the third of Monsieur Mallah and the Brain. All three creators were busy but promised to have them ready by the next day.
I noticed a trend toward a cute cartoony style in the artwork I saw around the convention floor. All three artists from whom I commissioned art on Saturday had such a style although their styles are each distinct enough that I wouldn't mistake one for the other.
The con closed for the day at 6. I went back to my hotel, read some of the comics I bought, and then headed out to get a bite to eat. I was fairly hungry. All I had for lunch was a cliff bar and some water.
I ate dinner in the Federal Hill neighborhood at a Lebanese restaurant, Byblos Restauant. I found it with some help from the Yelp app. I probably could have walked to the restaurant. I chose to catch the circulator instead. It dropped me a couple blocks from the restaurant.
For dinner I had the Moussaka Platter and a lemon-flavored, malt drink. The moussaka came with hummus, pita, and salad. None of the items were heated. I was a little disappointed that the pita wasn't warm but it didn't ruin the meal for me. The food tasted freshly made.
I briefly considered walking back to the hotel but it was dark and I felt more comfortable catching the bus. I walked a block over and caught the bus back to within a couple blocks of my hotel. Before hitting the sack I read some comics that I had bought and wrote a little bit about what I had seen and done.
Aug 29, 2010
I went to the Baltimore Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning. The weather was beautiful. The city was still fairly quiet when I left the Days Inn at 6:45. I arrived at 7, just as the market was opening. Many vendors were still setting up shop.
I walked around the whole market before buying anything. I took some pictures. I wanted to get a feel for the place before spending any money. It was huge, much bigger than what I expected, considerably bigger than the Takoma Park and Silver Spring Farmers Markets.
My original intention was just to buy breakfast but I wound up getting a little more than just breakfast. My first purchase was a sausage sandwich and a Dr Pepper. The sandwich was very simple: a grilled sausage split in two length-wise between two slices of bread.
Next I bought some peaches. They didn’t feel ripe so I try them until the next day. They were delicious.
My third purchase was a jar of sugar-free Pumpkin Butter. I would have bought the sugared variety but they didn’t have any in stock. The sugar-free variety is sweetened with a juice sweetener instead of sugar.
My fourth and final purchase was a jar of pickled watermelon rind. I was on my way out when it caught my eye. I wasn’t sure what it was and had to ask. It sounded so different and intriguing that I had to buy it. Its different but I like it.
I took some pictures on the way back to the Days Inn, including a few of a building that scares the crap out of me. It narrows at the top and the upper-most floors are so narrow that they can’t be any bigger than a single room. I wonder if there are actually offices up there.
I ate most of the leftover Funky Monkey Bread, after warming it in the microwave. I couldn’t force it all down. It was just a little too much for me.
I arrived early at the con, primarily because I wanted to commission another piece of original art. There was a long line of standing in the sun, waiting for the convention center to open, when I arrived. I chose to stand across the street in the shade by myself. A handful of people joined me in the shade. I thought there would be more. Once the convention center opened it only took a few minutes for everyone in line to get inside.
My first stop was Dave Wachter’s table. I asked him to do a sketch card for me of General Immortus, an enemy of the Doom Patrol. He told me that he would need some reference material so I went shopping. All the issues of Doom Patrol from the 1960s that I found cost $10 or more. I wound up buying the issue of Who’s Who that General Immortus appeared in. It cost me $1.
The picture in Who’s Who wasn’t great but it captured the essence of the character. When I gave it to Dave Wachter I showed him the page and emphasized that he was an evil, craggy-looking old man and that he should be wearing the same uniform.
My next stop was Ian Glaubinger’s table, which was right next to Dave Wachter’s table. Ian had finished the picture of Robotman that I had commissioned him to do. I was very happy with the picture he drew and colored. I love the World’s Fair motif and the colored rays emanating from his head. I think it showed on my face when I paid and thanked him. Before I left his table we chatted about the images he had found of Robotman on the internet: how it seemed like his body was destroyed getting destroyed on almost every cover.
I stopped by the Dead Fish Comics table. I chatted with Dev, the writer for 10-15 minutes. I told him what I thought of the comics and that I preferred The Living End to Robots are Cool Zombies and Zombies are Jerks. We also discussed war comics and Kyle Baker’s work on Captain America and Plasticman. He recommended that I give Special Forces a try.
I picked up the picture of Monsieur Mallah and the Brain that I had commissioned Josh Lyman to do. It is kind of cutesy, as I expected it would be. It is very nice. The humor is a little more subtle than what I expected. I am a little disappointed that he didn’t draw M. Mallah carrying a sub-machine gun but on the whole I am very happy with it.
I visited the table belonging to the guys who created Knuckleheads. When I was reading it the night before I noticed that there was a blank spot on the inside front cover for a sketch. I took it back to them and got them to draw me sketches of the main character. While we talked first Brian (the writer) and then Robert (the artist) drew sketches for me. Robert’s sketch took a little longer and was a little more detailed than Brian’s.
At noon I went upstairs for the Sergio Aragones Spotlight Panel. I have not read a lot of his work but enough to recognize his style. He spoke for a while about his early life and how he got started working for Mad Magazine. He answered questions from the audience.
At 1 I stayed in the room for the Comics Rewind: The 1980s panel. It was a big panel hosted by Mark Waid and featured Tim Truman, Matt Wagner, Walter and Louise Simonson, Marv Wolfman, and John Workman. I was familiar with all of them except John Workman.
The panel was a little chaotic. As I said it was a big panel, too big my opinion. Although they all got a chance to contribute to the conversation it seemed kind of rushed. It probably would have worked better if there had been more than one hour of time allotted for this panel.
It was fun to watch the panel members interact and reminisce. I thought of a couple questions to ask but I waited to too long and didn’t get a chance to ask them. I wish the panel could have been more than what it was but I’m glad that I stuck around for it.
I spent some time rooting through bins of comics, trade paperbacks and hard covers. I came across a copy of the Sgt Rock Archives v3, which is out of print. It was 1/2 off. I passed on it when I found it. I went back later in the day to see if it was still there but it was gone.
I picked up the other Robotman commission from Chris Flick. He did a great job with it. It wasn’t what I expected but I wasn’t really sure how he would draw Robotman. He just promised me that there would be some humor in it.
I finally got my picture of General Immortus from Dave Wachter just as the con was ending. It isn’t in color but it’s probably my favorite of the commission that I bought.
The con ended at 5. My train wasn’t due to leave until 7:45 so I had some time to kill. I decided to grab a bite to eat before heading to Penn Station. I checked the Yelp app (again) and found The Helmand, an Afghan restaurant which got very high marks. Even better it was halfway between the convention center and the train station.
I caught the circulator to the restaurant. I arrived before it got crowded. It wasn’t noisy, even after the room I was in filled up, and I didn’t have to wait very long for my food. The inside is very nicely decorated and looks nothing like the unassuming exterior of the place.
For dinner I had Kaddo Borawni and Chicken Lawand and hot tea. It was a very good meal, interesting tastes and textures and not too heavily spiced. It was not an inexpensive meal, with tip I paid $27.35, but it was worth the experience and the setting was very nice.
I arrived at Penn Station at 6:45.
What I Bought - Aug 28, 2010
Robots are Cool, Zombies are Jerks #1 - Dead Fish Comics - the lesser of the two comics I bought from Dead Fish Comics. It made me laugh but on the whole I would have preferred it if there was more humor and less violence.
The Living End #1 - Dead Fish Comics - killed when he swerves and crashes while trying to avoid hitting a turtle, Greg is brought back to life and given powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men by the grateful turtle. There's a catch, of course, he only remains alive during the day. This comic doesn't take itself serious in the least bit and I love that. I also like the banter and the fake ads. The art gets the job done, nothing fantastic but it works in a book like this. I was disappointed to learn (after doing some research on the internet) that this comic isn’t all that new and was printed several years ago. In other words there probably won’t be second issue.
The Dungeon #1 - BSX22 Studios - written and drawn by Shawn Harbin; not a bad start but I dunno if I’ll be ordering any more of these. This issue is a bit heavy on exposition. The story doesn’t get moving until halfway through the issue. I would probably be more favorably disposed towards picking up subsequent issues if the main character was wearing something a little more sensible.
Knuckleheads #1 - written by Brian Winkeler and drawn by Robert Wilson IV; slacker gets superpowers bestowed on him by the crystal fist. There are some good laughs here. A tongue in cheek look at what could be if not all superheroes were role models.
Animal Control: Special Creature Unit Preview - Panda Dog Press - a trio of tales about a couple of police officers who are tasked with recovering genetically modified creatures. I liked it a lot. The stories and the characters appeal to me. I hope this isn’t the first and last that I will see of this series.
Penny for Your Soul #1 - Big Dog Ink - sexy satanic forces at work in a Las Vegas casino; it caught my eye, but after reading it I’m not eager for more, regardless of how slutty the women are drawn. It isn’t bad it just isn’t what I want to spend my time reading.
Simone and Ajax TP - written and drawn by Andrew Pepoy; this is a funky looking series that caught my eye when I stopped by the creator’s table
Martian Manhunter: American Secrets #3 (of 3) - written by Gerard Jones and drawn by Eduardo Barreto; I bought the first issue several years ago. Despite the fact that I loved it I never followed up and tried to find the rest of the story. I halfheartedly looked for #2 but didn’t find it.
Strangers in Paradise v5 - written and drawn by Terry Moore. I picked this up because it was inexpensive and because after listening to Terry Moore speak earlier in the day I wanted to give this series another try.
What I Bought - Aug 29, 2010
Zorphbert & Fred - written and drawn by Dawn Griffin - collection of the web comic series in which two aliens disguised as dogs live among humanity; I got some laughs out this collection but some of the humor didn’t connect with my brain; at times it feels more cute than funny.
Steel, the Indestructible Man #2 - for over 20 years I’ve been looking for this issue. Words can’t describe how happy I was to find it in great shape for $1.
Who’s Who #9 - I already own this but I needed to provide Dave Wachter with something to use for reference when drawing a sketch card of General Immortus and this was the best, least expensive option I found. It also cost me $1.
Kamandi #25, 58
Star Spangled War Stories #190
Strangers in Paradise v4
Human Target #12-16 - I’ve resisted buying these issues for years. I keep hoping that DC/Vertigo will finish collecting this series but it has been several years and so far nothing. So I finally caved and bought these 5 issues at $1 a piece.
Robotman by Ian Glaubinger
Robotman by Chris Flick
Monsieur Mallah and the Brain by Josh Lyman
General Immortus by Dave Wachter
Graphic Audio Coupon Code